One of the leaders of the Trump administration's “Operation Warp Speed” initiative said he would quit the effort if he suspected politics were affecting the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
The scientific adviser for the Trump administration similarly said “I’m out” if a scenario arises in which an Emergency Use Authorization he disagreed with was issued for an inoculation.
The interview comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reportedly told state officials throughout the U.S. to be prepared to distribute vaccines to high-priority groups days ahead of the presidential election.
Slaoui told NPR he believed it was “possible but very unlikely” that a vaccine would be prepared to distribute by that time.
“There is a very, very low chance that the trials that are running as we speak could [be completed] before the end of October and therefore there could be — if all other conditions required for an Emergency Use Authorization are met — an approval,” Slaoui said. “I think it’s extremely unlikely but not impossible and therefore it’s the right thing to do to be prepared, in case.”
He claimed the rationale behind the CDC guidance was to be prepared in case a vaccine is ready that early.
“There is a possibility that the clinical trials, albeit very low as I said before, extremely low, but there is a possibility that the trials [could end] before the end of October. It would be irresponsible not to be ready if that was the case,” he told NPR.
In the same interview, Slaoui expressed confidence a vaccine would be ready before the end of the year to give to high-risk groups such as the elderly.
“We may have enough vaccine by the end of the year to immunize probably I would say between 20 and 25 million people,” he said.